How low can one fall?

By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ/New York Times

Published: July 9, 2011

HAMADONI DISTRICT, Tajikistan – Using a raft made of scrap wood and the
inner tube of a truck tire, four armed men recently crossed the river from
Afghanistan to a tiny, nameless border settlement here and kidnapped the two
adolescent sons of a local army recruiter.

With their hostages, they then crossed back into Afghanistan and called the
recruiter, demanding $55,000. They threatened to kill his sons and sell
their organs on the black market if he refused.

Such kidnappings, along with murders, armed clashes and other violence, have
become persistent features of life along Tajikistan’s extensive border with
Afghanistan. A largely unprotected expanse of severe peaks and dusty plains,
the border is practically all that separates the former Soviet republics of
Central Asia and beyond from the chaos of one of the world’s most
war-ravaged countries.

Securing it and the smaller borders with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan has
taken on greater urgency as American forces prepare to withdraw from
Afghanistan.
read more from New York Times

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